Several things happen following tragedies like the October 1 Las Vegas shooting. People mourn and grieve. Some express their pain, others their frustration. Politicians show their compassion for the victims, flags are lowered, moments of silence are taken, and discussions of gun control begin.
“There are a myriad of reasons why, as a society, we now regularly suffer from the malady of mass shootings. Much of it has to do with the degradation of moral values in our society,” says Yih Chau Chang, the Press Secretary for The Responsible Citizens of California.
A surge of gun control and gun ban discussions flood the news after tragic moments in our country like this. The reasoning makes sense. Guns were used to kill and injure many people. Roughly 33,000 gun deaths occur every year in America, according to the CDC. Two-thirds are due to suicide. The second largest bracket is young men from ages 15 to 34, killed in homicides. They are often gang members, or victims of other street violence. The next striking number is the 1,700 women murdered per year, usually resulting from domestic violence. A small number of all deaths by guns come from mass shootings like that in Las Vegas.
“The more guns we have floating on the market, the greater the danger becomes and the greater the perception that we need more guns. It is a negative feedback loop of fear increasing fear. This also provides justification for the militarization of our police force which in turn disconnects them from the communities they aim to serve,” says counselor and instructor, Juztino Panella.
Large, sweeping gun regulation and bans do not address the expanded issue of gun-related deaths. It inhibits our ability to protect ourselves from threats, any and all, foreign and domestic. “The 2nd Amendment is the one basic, fundamental, and enumerated civil right that guarantees all of the others listed in the Bill of Rights, without it, the government would have a monopoly on violence and tyranny would become the eventual and ultimate result,” says Chang.
Murder is tragic, and gun deaths naturally strike fear in everyone. If we as a society, as a nation are intent on dramatically reducing the number of gun-related deaths, we need to target the larger issue. The Boston Gun Project and Operation Ceasefire of the early 90s targeted high-risk youth with chronic criminal offense. They targeted and prioritized a specific group with high-risk numbers. Police teamed with “youth workers, probation and parole officers, and clergy offered gang members services and other kinds of help.” Mentoring and guidance were offered, a moral value which our society doesn’t seem to prioritize.
Speaking on potential long-term solutions, Panella says there must be, “people working in communities to build networks of solidarity. The culture of fear comes whether we have weapons, or don’t have weapons. We need to change the culture of fear. That’s what needs to happen.”